Anne Marie recently traveled to Uganda and met her sponsored children. We are grateful for Anne Marie’s faithfulness through the years. This is her story….
“I have had a calling to go to Africa since I was about 18 years old. However, during my teenage years I was paralyzed by an overwhelming fear. Fear of everything, really. Sometimes even breathing was the most difficult thing for me to do. I had an elephant on my chest most of the waking hours of my life until I was about 40 years old. Around the age of 18 I had a very traumatic life event that turned my fears into a full blown, untreated panic disorder. I went through all of my college years with this undiagnosed. At times I was agoraphobic, unable to even leave my dorm room. Flying became one of my greatest fears. So, how would I ever get to Africa? It was too overwhelming to even consider a possibility.
In 2006, the Mgwannza Children’s choir from Uganda came to Westside Church in Bend, Oregon. My two daughters were 8 and 11. After the concert, African Renewal Ministries had beautiful photos of many children in Uganda that needed sponsorship. Each of my daughters chose a child, and James Bukere Chemutai and Khisa Patience became a part of our family that day. My desire to go to Africa, and now specifically Uganda, was pulling on my heart strings powerfully. My children were young, my anxiety still consumed my world, and I didn’t know how that would ever happen.
I was fairly new to Antioch when I read a little paragraph about a trip to Uganda in the church bulletin in January of 2015. I knew the moment I read that bulletin, that now was my time. Tears streamed down my face during the entire praise and worship as I imagined myself finally living out my lifetime dream.
Now I am on the other side of that dream. It still kind of feels like it was all a dream. However, the thousands of pictures that our team took while we were in Uganda, proves that God answers prayers and can make our dreams a reality. I encourage anyone and everyone that has ever had a dream to go to Africa, to go. We went in April, during the rainy season. The land was lush and green. The temperature was just about perfect. The children were on their spring holiday from school, so we were gifted with many opportunities to spend time with the children in Uganda.
Our trip began in Kampala, the capital of Uganda. We spent our first full day at a nearby town, in Luzira, at City Church. Our team helped to host a city wide celebration for the children in the city. Hundreds of children came out to sing worship songs, celebrate Jesus and participate in an assortment of fun activities, enjoy good food and fellowship together. I had the lifelong blessing of meeting my beloved sponsored children, James and Khisa. Khisa lives in a nearby city about 30 km away. However, James lives in Kapchorwa, Uganda and traveled over 240 km to come visit me in Kampala. I worked through my sponsorship agencies to have a chaperone bring them to me. Khisa is still with African Renewal Ministries and James is now with Hope Africa International, a Central Oregon based organization in Sisters. I only had a few hours with them, but this was a dream come true and a specific answer to prayer for all of us. It is a moment I will never forget and a time so surreal that it’s hard to believe it really happened. We are connected with an even stronger bond now and it is my prayer that someday we will have an opportunity to meet again.”